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Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, has developed a DNA test that can identify the presence of anthrax in less than one hour, instead of days. Roche Diagnostics is making the test available to public health agencies, hospital laboratories, and reference laboratories in the United States and other countries.
"The first thing people want to know in a case of suspected exposure is whether the agent was in fact anthrax," says Franklin R. Cockerill III, MD, the Mayo Clinic biologist who led the research team. The team developed the test using Roche’s LightCycler instrument for polymerase chain reaction-based assays.
Some of the test components, which initially would be offered to laboratories for free, were available in November. Mayo Clinic recommends that specimens be tested at the nearest regional location to realize the full advantage of the rapid return of results.